Tamar is a Senior Technical Writer in the Dell-EMC Israel Center of Excellence, at RSA, the cyber security division. She considers Bolton School to be one of her most formative influences.
What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?
We had so many excellent teachers. My favourite subjects were History and English, unsurprising considering my subsequent careers, but my favourite teachers were not necessarily those who taught my favourite subjects. Music is not my forté, but I often think of Mrs Long, the music teacher, and her words of wisdom. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs Long for giving me a place in the Lower School Choir, after I flunked my audition, since I "showed fortitude and determination" by trying again. It did not lead to a singing career, but gave me an early example of the value of never accepting defeat.
What further study have you undertaken since leaving School?
I spent my gap year in Israel, intending to take up a place afterwards at UCL to study English Literature. But shortly after arriving in Jerusalem, the Gulf War broke out, leading to a very different type of experience. I did start UCL, but missed Israel terribly, and transferred back to complete a B.Ed. in English in Jerusalem. Teaching is not for me, however, so in my final year at college I took an internship at a news magazine, The Jerusalem Report, that lead to a decade-long career in journalism. I am a constant learner, and have taken courses and certificates since my degree – Technical Writing, UX Design, Program Management etc. In today's world, with new fields opening as quickly as new technologies are invented, there is a huge value to constantly updating your skill set.
What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role?
I currently work as a Senior Technical Writer at the EMC Israel Center of Excellence. My division is called RSA, and provides the online security and identity protection for many major banks and credit cards companies worldwide, likely including yours. Put simply, we protect your money from being stolen by hackers or fraudsters.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
Israel’s hi-tech sector has grown rapidly in the past two decades and is today considered second only to Silicon Valley. It’s a very exciting area to work in, particularly the field of cyber security. I didn’t initially consider this field because I had young children (I am blessed with six great kids, aged ten to 21) and I am a big advocate of attachment parenting, so freelance journalism and later non-profit PR were a better fit for my lifestyle. But once my kids were old enough for me to take on the pressure and long hours of hi-tech, I took a short Technical Documentation course and switched careers.
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
My husband. A few years ago I received a surprise invitation from the US Ambassador to Israel, inviting me to participate in a three-week International Visitors Leadership Program in USA on the theme of using social media to benefit civic society. One of my daughters was in the room when I opened the letter, and immediately said, "Three weeks? Tell them you are a mother and can’t leave us for that long." Seeing the guilt on my face, my husband immediately retorted, "Of course she’s going. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we’ll be just fine!" That trip was very inspirational for me, I travelled with 18 other professionals from Iran, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and more, and it was an eye-opening look at other cultures and the underappreciated gift of democracy that I have always enjoyed. And my family coped admirably without me for 3 weeks :)
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Writing comes first, but in order to succeed in hi-tech, you also need innovative thinking, time-management and to work as a team player. I have also found it valuable to volunteer for non-project-related forums in my company – such as the sustainability forum – it has helped me to meet colleagues outside of my business unit.
What do you like most about your job?
Exploring the new frontier of cyber security. It's a cat’n’mouse game between the fraudsters and hackers, and the security professionals, just played out through computer screens rather than the street. That said, social engineering is also huge threat today ... when you see what's happening, you can become quite paranoid about divulging your personal information to anyone.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
Our company was recently merged with Dell, so while it’s not exactly a challenge, it will be interesting to see how the merger affects our current roles, and what opportunities that brings.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
Representing my team in the EMC Global Innovation Challenge, and winning all the awards! After a week-long boot camp at HQ in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, I had three minutes on stage to present our idea – a motion-based identity recognition system – to a panel of C-Level executives and a live audience. It was pretty nerve-wracking!
How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?
At Bolton I learned to regard myself as a future leader, to have confidence in my abilities and decisions.
What advice would you give to our pupils interested in your field of work?
It sounds trite, but you really do need to be the best that you can be. Keep up with the current trends. Use social media to network to the decision makers you want to reach – even here in tiny Israel (the size of Wales), thousands of entrepreneurs have succeeded in using their talents, determination and social media to build world-class multi-million dollar businesses, such as Checkpoint and Waze. There’s really nothing stopping you.
One final point – Give Back! I am very involved in my company's social responsibility projects, and volunteer for one called Sodkot - Breaking the Glass Ceiling, to encourage high school girls in deprived socio-economic communities to study STEM subjects in school and university. It’s not enough to work hard for ourselves; we need to bring others with us.